| Colorado gun-permit database incomplete, riddled with errors
By Kirk Mitchell, The Denver Post
Posted: 12/20/2010 01:00:00 AM MST
Updated: 12/20/2010 05:56:20 AM MST
A database police rely on to know who has a concealed-gun permit is incomplete and riddled with errors, a recent state audit found.
"We found the information in the database is not reliable for law enforcement to use in determining the validity of a permit," the report says.
The audit also noted that the total number of concealed-weapons permits issued quadrupled from 6,300 a year in 2005 to 27,000 in 2009.
Colorado's concealed-weapons database does not contain information about 16,000 permits — 45 percent of those issued — partly because 20 counties, including Douglas and El Paso, don't enter the information with Colorado Crime Information Center.
And that is just part of the problem. Among other audit findings:
• Of 51,000 records that are entered by participating sheriff's offices onto the computer system, 32,000, or 63 percent, of the records contain inaccuracies, the audit says.
• Although concealed-gun permits expire in five years, the database contains records for dozens of permits claiming they won't expire for 40, 50 or 100 years.
• 2,000 records in the database are duplicates, with one showing the permit as valid, and a second showing it as revoked — for the same person.
• Another 2,700 permits indicate on an initial screen that a person has a permit while a secondary screen shows that they were denied a permit.
"This problem is significant because law enforcement do not always look at the details behind the initial screen," the audit says.
A state survey showed that 68 percent of police officers, sheriff's deputies and state troopers do not check past the initial screen. That could lead to police thinking the subject of a warrant has a weapon, when the person might not, or vice versa.
When asked whether the database was useful, 72 percent of 74 responding officers said it was. Many said it kept law enforcement officers safer because they knew who was armed with a gun. Their perception was mistaken, however, the audit noted.
The audit also found that sheriff's offices were logging significantly more information about people than was contained on state concealed-permit applications.
Although there was no question on the application about a person's race, for example, all 51,000 computer records included the information.
Also, Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers and even a person's occupation were obtained and recorded independently of the application, possibly through interviewing.
However, auditors noted that it was unclear whether the legislature intended to limit questioning to only what was on the applications.
Authorities from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, which monitors the database, declined to comment.
Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org